Rick Perry backs off threat to skip future 2012 debates

Holly Bailey

Rick Perry is slightly backing off his threat to skip future Republican presidential primary debates.

A top adviser to the Texas governor tells the Associated Press's Kasie Hunt the 2012 hopeful will attend the next five debates starting next week and continuing through December.

Perry had already planned to attend next week's economic debate sponsored by CNBC in Michigan. According to Ray Sullivan, Perry's communication director, the governor will also attend debates on Nov. 12 in South Carolina; Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C.; and Dec. 1 in Arizona.

He'll also attend a presidential forum in Iowa on Nov. 19 sponsored by The Family Leader, an influential social conservative group in the state.

Sullivan says the campaign will consider debates in January and throughout the rest of the primary on a "case-by-case" basis.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Perry downplayed his strategy on the debates, insisting he wasn't trying to skip forums because he's a bad debater. Instead, Perry explained, the idea is to free up more time for him to spend on the trail with voters.

"I readily admit I'm not the best debater in the world," he said. "With as many debates as we've got coming up, I may end up being a pretty good debater before it's all said and done."

He said the current debate schedule is "way too many."

"That's just an incredibly amount of time and preparation," Perry told Fox News's Chris Wallace. "I really like getting out and talking to people . . . where you have time to lay out your ideas."

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